Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/619

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which they gave to England's sailors in the days of her greatest naval glory. To Dibdin's gener- ation also belonged John Percy, the composer of 'Wapping Old Stairs/ and James Hook, best known for 'The lass of Richmond Hill,' and ' 'Twas within a mile of Edinboro' town/ a pseudo-Scotch song, like Carter's ' Nanny, wilt thou gang with me !' Two better musicians than these appeared a very few years later, viz. William Shield and Stephen Storace, both re- markable for a great gift of melody ; but their songs are seldom heard now, with the excep- tion perhaps of 'The death of Tom Moody' by Shield, and Storage's ' With lonely suit and plaintive ditty.' Were it only for his song ' The Bay of Biscay/ the name of John Davy of Ex- eter should be noted among the celebrities of this period. John Braham, Charles Horn, and Henry Bishop, were all born in the i8th century, but so near its close that their works must be regarded as products of the i9th. Braham was himself a celebrated singer, and his national song, ' The death of Nelson,' deserves to live. To Horn we owe 'Cherry ripe,' and a song often sung by Mme. Malibran, ' The deep, deep sea.' And Sir Henry Bishop, who retained a firm hold on the English public for fully half a century, must be placed in the first rank of our composers of songs. As a musician he surpassed all his contemporaries and immediate predecessors in science, taste, and facility; and perhaps also in invention. He cer- tainly advanced far beyond them with his ac- companiments, which are varied and skilful; and his melodies are full of grace. So carefully did he study correctness of accent, that in his songs the metre of the poetry is seldom, if ever, disturbed by the rhythm of the music a rare merit among English composers. Important, too, and interesting are the introductions, interludes, and conclusions of his songs, as for instance in ' Bid me discourse/ and ' Should he upbraid.' Of ' Home, sweet Home,' who has not felt the charm ? Thomas Moore may be passed by here, for his songs are noticed elsewhere in this Dictionary. 1 In further illustration of the songs of the first part of this century, the reader may be reminded of ' My boyhood's home ' and ' Under the tree/ by Rooke ; ' There's a light in her laughing eye/ by Loder ; ' Love's Ritornella,' by Thomas Cooke ; ' They mourn me dead, in my father's halls ' and ' The banks of the blue Moselle/ by G. H. Rod- well ; ' Isle of beauty/ by Haynes Bayly and T. A. Rawlings ; ' Meet me by moonlight alone ' and ' Love was once a little boy/ by Wade; 'Away to the mountain's brow,' The Soldier's tear/ and 'Come dwell with me/ by Lee ; 'I'd be a butterfly/ by Haynes Bayly ; ' Phillis is my only joy,' by J. W. Hobbs ; of ' The bluebells of Scotland/ by Mrs. Jordan ; of 'Alice Grey/ by Mrs. Millard ; and of 'The Cuckoo,' by Margaret Casson. 2 These songs, and innumerable others like them, follow, as a rule, the simple plan of the Ballad proper.

1 See MOORE ; and IRISH Mcsic.

2 The ' Old English Gentleman,' published In 1832, and still pop- alar, Is a variation by C. H. Furday of a song or chant called 'The Old Queen's Courtier. 1 first published in 1667.



��And as a general criticism upon them, it may be said that being melodious and pleasant to sing is their principal, if not their sole recommendation. Written expressly to be sung, they have very easy accompaniments ; and any good voice, even with slight musical knowledge, can render them effective in execution. When weighed, however, in the balance of pure and scientific music, they are felt to be worthless; and the popularity of such pieces, even at the present time, is sugges- tive of some reflections on the standard of English taste in relation to the Song.

While the taste of the English public in other branches of music has of late years been remark- ably developed and elevated, there would seem to have been no corresponding advance in respect of the Song. At concerts where the instrumental pieces given are all of the highest and most classical type, the centre place of the programme is very frequently assigned to some slight and valueless song. The audience in no wise resent its intrusion ; on the contrary, they greet it with a rapturous applause, which would probably be denied to a song of superior calibre. Encourage- ment, therefore, is wanting to the concert-singer to extend his repertoire in the right direction. But how comes it that audiences, whose ear is severely fastidious to instrumental music, relax and lower their standard of requirement for the Song ? Whatever other reasons may be adduced for this inequality of taste, it can at all events be explained in a large degree by the action of the Italian Opera on the English vocal school. From Handel's time until a very recent date, Italian operas and Italian songs reigned supreme in England ; Italian singers and Italian teachers were masters of the situation to the exclusion of all others. And the habit thus contracted of hearing and admiring compositions in a foreign and unknown tongue engendered in the English public a lamentable indifference to the words of songs, which reacted with evil effects both on the composer and the singer. Concerned only to please the ear of his audience, the composer neglected to wed his music to words of true poetic merit ; and the singer quickly grew to be careless in his enunciation. Of how many English singers, and even of good ones, may it not fairly be affirmed that at the end of a song the audience has failed to recognise its language ? But these singers have been secured from the just penalties of such defec- tive enunciation by the habitual indifference of English hearers to the intellectual meaning of songs ; they have neither forfeited applause, nor lost popularity. It is otherwise with nations ac- customed to the Opera and the Song in their ver- nacular tongue. Germans and Frenchmen, for instance, expect to have the thought and senti- ment of a song conveyed to them by its words as well as by its music. Naturally, therefore, they reckon a clear and distinct pronunciation to be among the first requisites of good singing ; and there is no reason why the same quality should not be demanded of singers in England. How rarely in England is the name of the author of a song stated in a programme as well as that of

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